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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 22, 2007 • Issue 07:10:02

Industry Update

The Green Sheet, Inc.NEWS

AmEx launches corporate thank you gift cards

In the spirit of showing thanks, American Express Co. announced the American Express Especially for Thank You Gift Card, the latest addition to its growing line of themed Gift Cards.

The new gift card has a gold design to emphasize its premium gifting status. The card is available in various denominations from $25 to $100, and comes with special offers from participating retailers and merchants nationwide.

According to Stefan Happ, AmEx Vice President and General Manager, the process helps companies by offering bulk purchasing of AmEx prepaid cards and adding relevant business-themed products like the Dining and Thank You Gift Card. AmEx offers themed gift cards for consumers, including kids, teens, birthdays, dining, movie lovers and bride and groom.

Notre Dame accepts contactless payment

Chase Card Services, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the University of Notre Dame have accepted the blink Visa U.S.A. card at Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center, becoming one of the first universities to do so.

Card holders will be able to use the Notre Dame Visa Card with blink at more than 60 concession stands throughout the campus, allowing them to get back to the excitement of the game and spend less time in line.

To use Chase cards with blink, card members hold their cards near POS terminals at checkout, instead of swiping or handing them to employees. As card members place their Chase cards with blink in front of the terminal, the system will quickly emit a signal to acknowledge each payment confirmation.

Consumers want security

A recent First Data Corp. survey revealed that consumers, when asked the reasons behind choosing one form of payment over another, rated security as the most important attribute for any payment method, followed by control over money, fee avoidance and ease of use.

The 2006/2007 Consumer Payments Usage and Segmentation Study also shows the average total number of signature debit POS transactions made monthly has increased 38% in the last year, from 13 to 18 transactions per month.

The survey includes a segmentation analysis of specific market groups based on their payment tendencies at the POS. The six segments are signature debit, PIN debit, cash/PIN debit, cash, check and credit card segments.

The segments are determined by an analysis of payment behavior, demographics, attitudinal characteristics, payment preference and value-based characteristics.

ISTS makes fastest-growing list

On Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's list of the fastest-growing private companies in Silicon Valley, ISTS Worldwide Inc., a software development, consulting and systems integration services firm, ranked No. 6, with a 2004 to 2006 revenue growth of 531%.

ISTS has built its company on the ability to deliver frameworks-based custom information technology applications for services such as prepaid, gift card and loyalty solutions, mobile payment solutions and more.

ISTS strives to enable organizations to maximize performance and reduce operating costs through technology services delivered through a proven hybrid (onsite to offshore) global delivery model.

Debit card numbers climbing

Despite current challenges in the credit markets, new research from MasterCard Worldwide-owned TowerGroup Inc. finds that the debit card's increasingly dominant position will continue through 2009 and beyond.

Prepaid cards will also continue growing as a result of foreclosures affecting credit scores and consumers continuing to require benefits of payment card access.

From 2005 to 2007, transactions for debit cards in the United States surged three times faster than those for credit cards, according to the report, Crediting Debit: How Debit Cards Will Grow in a Changing Environment.

Debit cards have absorbed a growing share of consumable purchases such as gasoline, groceries and other day-to-day consumer expenses. Brian Riley, author and Senior Analyst, found that the debit market is primed for growth beyond traditional banking products.

The Green Sheet, Inc.ANNOUNCEMENTS

Are credit card restrictions dangerous?

A new study released by economists Jonathan Orszag and Susan Manning concluded that placing further legislative restrictions on credit card interest rates and fees is likely to harm the majority of consumers who manage credit cards successfully.

The study, financed by the American Bankers Association, reached three main conclusions: proposals for price controls on credit cards only help a small minority of borrowers, innovation and deregulation have allowed credit card prices to reflect borrower risk more accurately, and effective alternatives exist to protect consumers from deceptive credit card practices without raising costs.

AdvanceMe breaks ground on corporate headquarters

AdvanceMe Inc., which provides merchant cash advances for small and mid-sized businesses, broke ground for its corporate headquarters in Cobb County, Ga.

The 75,000 square foot building will house AdvanceMe's 300-plus employees. The groundbreaking ceremony included company executives, along with key partners involved in the project.

ACH launches Secure Web Pay

ACH Direct Inc., a leading technology provider of automated clearing house (ACH), electronic check, credit card and debit card transaction processing and risk management services, launched its Secure Web Pay (SWP) product.

SWP provides turnkey solutions for Web-based payment processing, eliminating the need for extensive software development. Merchants can link directly from their Web site to ACH Direct's SWP, which takes on all responsibility related to payments, such as collecting payment data and maintaining Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance.

BlueStar receives Distributor of the Year award

BlueStar, a leading innovator in solutions-based distribution for auto identification, POS mobility and RFID products, is the recipient of Alien Technologies' 2007 Distributor of the Year award for excellence in RFID.

The award was given at Alien Technologies' Awards Dinner held in conjunction with the inaugural Alien Partner Conference in Chicago on Oct. 1 and 2, 2007. BlueStar RFID Program Manager Dan Miller was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the company.

Discover Card gets high ranks in study

Discover Financial Services LLC's Discover Card scored highest in both the Rewards and the Billing and Paying Process factors in the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. It also scored second among credit card issuers.

The inaugural study analyzed the five factors critical to the level of satisfaction consumers have with their primary credit card companies.

Discover Card scored within the top two of all other factors, including benefits and features, fees and rates, and problem resolution.

Google nonprofit checkout takes flight

Google is giving nonprofit organizations that are certified 501(c)(3) an easy way to accept online donations through Google Checkout for Nonprofits. With the service, donors will have a fast and secure way to support their favorite groups.

Through at least the end of 2008, nonprofits will pay 0% + 0 cents in transaction fees for each donation they accept through Checkout.

Besides being free, Checkout is designed to make the donation and collection process more efficient. Donors complete the transaction with a Google login, which will help track donations in a central location as a resource for tax purposes.

First Hawaiian Bank to offer PayPass

First Hawaiian Bank has become the first local financial institution to issue debit cards with an embedded computer chip, according to Don Horner, First Hawaiian Bank President and Chief Executive Officer. The bank's new Priority Rewards debit card contains a MasterCard Worldwide PayPass chip that allows a contactless payment option, reducing transaction times in retail establishments.

With PayPass, cardholders tap their debit cards on the specially-equipped terminals and the amount is automatically deducted from their checking accounts.

When purchasing items under $25, no signature is required to complete the transaction.

Heartland launches Express Funds

Heartland Payment Systems, a leading provider of credit, debit and prepaid card processing, payroll and payment services, has launched Heartland Express Funds, a bank-neutral remote deposit capture system.

Express Funds allows businesses to electronically deposit checks into bank accounts without physically transporting them to the bank. Funds are available within 24 hours, and, in many cases, by the next business morning.

Additionally, Express Funds integrates into many accounting systems including QuickBooks, Great Plains, Peachtree and Accpac.

The Green Sheet, Inc.PARTNERSHIPS

Gemalto, Far EasTone focus on Asian market

Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, partnered with Taiwan's Far EasTone Telecommunications Ltd. to start Asia's first mobile contactless SIM-based near field communications (NFC) trial.

The trial, starting in November 2007 and rolling out in phases, is part of the GSM Association's Pay-Buy Mobile initiative, which seeks to define a common global approach to using NFC technology to link mobile devices with payment and contactless systems.

Far EasTone subscribers participating in the trial will be able to make mobile contactless purchases at any Far EasTone trial partner merchant with the same ease and convenience as if using an ordinary contactless payment card.

Taiwan's hypermarket chain, a combination of a supermarket and department store, Far Eastern Geant will hang posters embedded with NFC tags at its stores. Shoppers walk by, wave their NFC mobile across the poster and walk away with a coupon downloaded to the SIM for use at the checkout or for later purchases.

Leaders Merchant, BFS join hands

Leaders Merchant Services LLC, a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank & Co., has recently partnered with Business Financial Services to provide cash advances to its merchants.

Sarah Tieman, Director of Operations for Leaders Merchant, describes this program as a win-win situation for both merchants and agents. She said the merchants need the funds to help their businesses grow, and the agents have an additional source of income from referring these advances.

According to Tieman, agents have a great tool to get in the merchants' doors as well as retain existing merchants. BFS collects the documentation while Leaders Merchant's agents pursue their next new merchant, putting more money in the agents' pockets, quickly.

Verifone, POSitouch partner up for POS system

VeriFone Holdings Inc. and POSitouch will offer VeriFone's ON THE SPOT mobile electronic payment systems with the POSitouch POS systems to restaurant operators in North America.

The system is focused solely on the hospitality industry with technologically advanced solutions that have been installed in more than 26,000 locations. VeriFone will work with POSitouch to market the restaurant solutions to existing and new customers.

Western Union, Yodlee to offer expedited online payments

The Western Union Co. and Yodlee Inc. have joined to offer a range of online payment capabilities including expedited payments for online bill-pay users. The program links financial institutions' online bill-payment services directly to Western Union's merchants.

The new system will cut down on time lost during the billing and paying process, with a turnaround for online payments becoming same-day and next-day.

The Green Sheet, Inc.APPOINTMENTS

Gray, Henderson join FNMS sales team

First National Merchant Solutions added Betty Gray and John Henderson to its East Coast sales operations. They bring more than 35 years of combined sales experience to FNMS.

As Sales Directors, they will sell FNMS' suite of processing solutions in the company's 21-state East Coast region.

Gray previously worked for AmEx as Manager of Account Development. Henderson is a 15-year veteran of sales in the commercial card solutions industry with experience at both AmEx and U.S. Bancorp.

CrossCheck adds Miller to management team

CrossCheck, Inc., the nation's third-largest check approval and guarantee company, added Shane Miller to its management team as Vice President of Information Services. Miller will oversee the company's information systems, application development, authorization systems and e-commerce sites.

Miller brings more than 17 years of technology experience to the table. Previously, he held a senior management position at Tickets.com.

His expertise regarding bankcard industry standards, state statutes and federal law will enable CrossCheck to continue to meet the demands for adherence to the safekeeping of consumer information.

Toser new Mobilians EVP

Barry S. Toser has been named Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Mobilians. Toser was most recently EVP and General Manager of the Telecom Services Division at Transaction Network Services.

The Green Sheet, Inc.BOTTOM LINES

  • As part of Stores Magazine's inaugural Favorite 50 survey conducted by BIGresearch LLC, Amazon.com Inc. was ranked as consumers' favorite online retail company. Other merchants rounding out the top five were eBay Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

  • Consumer Reports estimates that 19% of customers who received gift cards in 2006 did not use them because the cards were lost or expired. When cards aren't used, the money goes back to retailers. Best Buy Co. reported a $43 million gain last year from cards that hadn't been used in two or more years.

  • According to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGresearch, consumers are expected to spend more on Halloween this year than last, with the average person planning to spend $64.82 compared to $59.06 in 2006. Total Halloween spending for 2007 is estimated to exceed $5 billion.
end of article

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